Spring Parade of Homes Tour…How Less Can Sometimes Be More

Click Here for the Latest POST on the 2009 Spring Parade of Homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan


It’s a spring time ritual in Grand Rapids, Mi.  For residents like myself and many others who love to peek into gorgeous homes and pick up the latest tips for home decor and furnishings, the Spring Parade of Homes Tour is an event which is highly anticipated.

However, this year, the Parade of Homes will feature a tour with significantly fewer offerings than in recent years.  In 2006, there were 200 homes featured in the Parade of Homes, last year (2007) the number was 133.  This year, 83 homes will make their debuts in the Parade…far fewer entries than just 24 months ago.

New housing starts are one indicator of the health of the markets.  So are the number of foreclosures and short sales.  We have observed a leveling off in the number of foreclosures and short sales since numbers peaked at the end of 2007. 

In fact, there has been a 5 month decline in the number of homes being sold by foreclosure and short sales as reported through statistics available from the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors. If this trend continues, it may indicate that we have hit rock bottom for price reductions overall in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

As inventory levels decline, there is an opportunity for the markets to level off and reach equilibrium.  The number of homes available for sale in the past couple of years has been almost double the historical highs.  This in addition to the dramatic rise in foreclosures and short sales has precipitated sale price decreases in the double digits in many areas of Grand Rapids. Fewer homes (existing or new homes) in the inventory pool should help to stabilize this trend.

So, are home builders simply being more cautious?  Well, perhaps in part.  But, I think that in some ways, this may prove to be a somewhat positive indicator of the market recovery. It’s interesting to note that more or less the same number of builders are participating in the Parade of Homes this year, BUT they are registering fewer models for the Parade.  Hopefully, less inventory will remain unsold as buyers continue to take advantage of the great bargains available right now in the re-sale and new home inventory.

If you’re looking for a great home and need assistance in accessing the latest new listings, contact us to find out how you can receive instant notification for homes on a daily basis!

The Parade of Homes Tour continues from May 21 ~ May 31.  Information about the tour, prices and prizes can be obtained hereIn addition, adult ticket holders qualify for a 50 cents per gallon discount on gas redemable at Meijer gas stations! (up to 10 gallons)

visit www.auduhomes.com  to view the latest New Home Listings in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Also…order your FREE Relocation package.

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

Quenching Our Thirst & Healing Our Land…Clean Water Action in Grand Rapids, MI

banks of the grand river in grand rapids, michiganThere are few things more central to human life and existence than the presence of water.  The unique triplicate combination of hydrogen and oxygen is responsible for over 70% of the mass & sinew within the human body.

Human thirst for water is one of our primal urges.  It must be quenched; to ignore it is to negotiate an uneasy truce with a diminishing quality of life. 

The thirst for water is increasingly becoming a political, environmental and socio-economic issue as well.  This evening in Grand Rapids, I attended a fund raiser for the Clean Water Action of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I was introduced to the organization by  the volunteer activities of my son.   

It was an opportunity to meet many new people and to learn about what the Clean Water Action organization is doing to preserve the environment and water rights for the people of Michigan.  I was somewhat ignorant of a number of critical bills that are currently working their way through the Congress which will have a significant impact on how water from the Great Lakes region is used and distributed in the future.

Earlier in the day, I had met with Mary Bigelow, a blogger and mortgage lender on the Active Rain Network to discuss Sustainable Green Built Residential Homes.  Mary is involved with a number of initiatives here in Michigan and in other parts of the nation which are being designed to be healthy for our environment and for the humans beings who live here. 

Clean water, solar energy, formaldehyde free cabinets, fresh air recovery systems and energy efficient appliances were some of the topics we covered in a free ranging engaging discussion. We have several listings in the greater Grand Rapids area for land with acreage.  We are going to be exploring how to promote building homes which are energy effecient and green built  with quality construction.  More details coming on that later… 

At the fundraiser, the work of photographer David Lubbers, a West Michigan native was also featured.  His latest book, ‘The Waters of Michigan,’ with Dave Dempsey, and environmental activist and writer is an exquisite photo montage of water images in Michigan.  Looking at these soulful photographic images, I am reminded that although ‘the earth is the Lords’ and the fullness thereof’ we humans have been given the remarkable responsibility of ensuring it’s well being as well as our own.

Is Grand Rapids, Michigan A friendly city….

If you live in Grand Rapids, Michigan you know that in many ways it’s a great community to live in.  The city can boast of a number of city parks and recreational centers in addition to being cited as one of the most affordable places to live in the United States. 

But is it a friendly place to live?  Is Grand Rapids a city which is hospitable to outsiders and welcoming of those who perceive life from a different orientation or life experience?  Recently, my inbox received an e-mail from someone who had stumbled upon a blog post I wrote some time ago about finding a good hairdresser as an African American woman.

This e-mail echoed a sentiment that I have observed in message boards in other forums from young professionals who have mixed sentiments about the thought of making Grand Rapids, Michigan home.  In essence, this individual indicated that in two years of living in Grand Rapids, she had been extremely disappointed by the lack of diversity and were it not for her job, she would have left!

And, this is not just a black/white issue…  In a sense, what hangs in the balance is whether our city is a place in which people can feel comfortable within their own skin.  Is Grand Rapids, Michigan a place where you can feel at home?

This issue is compelling for a number of reasons.   In his book, ‘The Flight of the Creative Class,”  Richard Florida writes with compelling insight about the emerging competition for  global talent.  According to Florida, the most valued workers in this new era will be what economist call ‘creatives’…individuals who are among the brightest, most hardworking and entrepreneurial workers in the world.  

The importance of these type of workers to the economic health of any community is going to increase exponentially. According to Florida, most communities in the United State are educating a potential workforce which they are going to be sending away.  There are approximately 10 cities within the United States which are successfully attracting and retaining the best and the brightest. 

And…that is where the issue of discomfort comes into play.  Creatives, as Richard Florida terms them cannot be typecast by race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, familial status, handicap or any of the other ways in which we try to distinguish and divide people.  Creatives are an eclectic group drawn from all sectors of the human family and they are keenly aware of the implications of closed communities which do not foster a spirit of innovation.

Communities in which all people do not feel comfortable may risk more than alienating diverse people groups.  They may be compromising their future. 

Perhaps, a better question would be to ask…Am I a friendly person?  Because after all…who is Grand Rapids.  It’s me..it’s you…it’s all of us who call this city home.  Perhaps, we would all do well to ask ourselves if we are open to newcomers and welcoming of individuals who think, dress, speak and act differently than what we have grown accustomed to? 

How we answer these  questions and express our intentions through our actions towards others may have more bearings on the progress and prosperity of our community than we could possibly fathom.




Have We Hit Bottom Yet?…A Brief Summary of the Grand Rapids, Mi Real Estate Market

To say this has been an interesting 24 months in the real estate industry in Grand Rapids, Michigan would be an understatement.  The Grand Rapids Association of Realtors began tracking the significant increase in foreclosures in the Grand Rapids area at the start of 2007. 

Concern that the numbers were in the low double digits increased as the foreclosure and short sale rates climbed upwards towards just shy of 49% by December of 2007.  But something shifted in 2008.  In January, the number of homes Sold jumped 18.9%…the first jump of that magnitude since 2005.  This was followed by a decrease in homes listed in February of 2008 which was the first signal that there may a decline in high inventory levels.

Over the past 3 months, the Foreclosure and Short Sales statistics have continued to decline.  While it is somewhat alarming that almost 1 in 2 homes Sold in Grand Rapids today are in this category, the dollar volume of these Sales as a percentage of the Sales for the entire Board has dropped from a high of 32% at the latter part of 2007 to just under 28% for the last 3 months.  If this trend continues…we are likely to look back to this time as the End of Bargain Hunting for aspiring home buyers.

Grand Rapids Mi….Dynamic Real Estate Blogging & Code of Ethics Continuing Education COMBO!

Gwyn Besner ~ The Acme Institute

There’s a simple proverb that says…”When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. 

For thousands of students in Michigan, including myself, that teacher has been Gwyn Besner. My initial interraction with Gwyn was during a Continuing Education Class. I found her teaching style interesting and she definitely kept us awake!

Through the years, I have recommended Gwyn Besner to many students who through her instruction and encouragement successfully passed their real estate licensing exams.  More importantly, these new real estate agents finished her classes with a clear sense of what the real estate profession aspires to be and were well prepared to launch their new profession. 

Today, Gwyn is the President and Instructor for the Acme Institute and continues to teach students across the State of Michigan.

So, I am delighted to be able to have the opportunity to have Gwyn Besner participate in the Continuing Education Courses that are being offered in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 28th, 2008

Gwyn will be joining us in the afternoon of May 28th, 2008 to teach the Code of Ethics!  This class will function for double duty!  In addition to qualifying for 3 hours of Continuing Education Core Curriculum, this class will also allow members of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors to have an interesting, live interactive Code of Ethics class…one of the requirements for ALL members of GRAR.

Don’t Miss this Opportunity!

Here’s a Description of the Course that Gwyn will be teaching on May 28, 2008… 

Honesty, Integrity and Commitment are not just buzz words.  As a REALTOR® those are the promises you make.  The public knows that because you can use the term REALTOR® after your name, they can expect nothing less from you.  Do you really understand the promises you are making?  Join us for a fresh perspective of the Code as we celebrate its 100th birthday. 

This class contains the NAR required curriculum for the Second Cycle of Quadrennial training and has been approved by the Department of Labor and Economic Growth of the State of Michigan for three hours of continuing education, including the mandatory two hour core curriculum (legal update) #K299, K5047.  Presented by Gwyn Besner of The Acme Institute Approval code K348

Class Starts at 1:00 p.m.

Registration begins at Noon* Participants in the Blogging Courses can register for all 3 courses and obtain 7 hours of Continuing Education in one day and have all your requirements for Continuing Education, Core Curriculum/Legal Update AND Code of Ethics in one day! If you register for all 3 Courses…We’ll Feed You Lunch!

Place:  660 Kenmoor SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Click this LINK to REGISTER for the Code of Ethics class!  (the registration button is at the bottom of the page)

Click this LINKG to REGISTER for Blogging Continuing Education Classes!


Related Links:

Information about the Blogging & Technology Continuing Education Courses on May 21 & 28th, 2008

State ID K1062 & 1063  Instructor Approval Code ~ Audu Real Estate K355

Download Registration Form for  Blogging & Technology Continuing Education Courses

View Video of Class held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2007

Click to read more from Gwyn Besner’s blog...

Visit Gwyn Besner’s Website…

Opera Grand Rapids…A Memorable 40 Years

dutch shoes and girlTonight, I look forward to attending the last performance of the 2008 Season for the Opera Grand Rapids. The performance of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ written by Robert Wagner will be the conclusion of the 40 Year Anniversary Season of the Opera Grand Rapids.  Other performances this year have included Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro.  In a way, it’s fitting that this years final celebration reflects a prominent part of the city’s heritage of Dutch culture. 

We were introduced to the opera by a friend and business associate.  Opera was not something that I would have predicted developing a liking or passion for.  But, improbably through CD’s which introduced the storyline and many characters as well as the high quality of the performances, we have grown to love this type of entertainment.  The Opera of Grand Rapids features performers from around the nation as well as local talent which includes the excellent Grand Rapids Symphony

Some Exciting News was recently announced.  The Opera will finally have its’ headquarters in the Grand Rapids area.  For the past 40 years, this incredible troupe of artisans has rehearsed in locations as improbable as vacant storefronts and office buildings.  They have now entered into an agreement to purchase a property on East Fulton which will house offices, a rehearsal hall, costume shop and storage for props.  The facility is scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2009. 

The New Facility will be known as the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in honor of Betty Van Andel who was a member of the Opera Grand Rapids Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1990. In 2001, the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation awarded Opera Grand Rapids a 1 Million dollar gift to jumpstart the building project.  The Opera Grand Rapids is still involved in a major campaign to collect the remainder needed for the 2+ Million dollar project.  As of mid-April, according the the Opera Grand Rapids website…they have raised approximately 70% of their target goal.

What is remarkable about the Opera of Grand Rapids from a fiscal standpoint is the manner in which they have managed and engaged fiscal costs and grown their audience at a time when many businesses in Grand Rapids experienced severe financial losses.  I think one key has been the quality of the performances and the excellence with which they have marketed the Opera to a whole new audience. 

When I look over the audience during an Opera performance, I’m always struck by the diversity of those who have come to know and love this special event offering in Grand Rapids.  This bodes well for the future of the Opera…and the future of Grand Rapids!

Picture courtesy of PetitPoulillaires’ photostream on flickr.com

Copyright 2008 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved